“Here’s another old saying that deserves a second look: ‘Eye for eye, tooth for tooth.’ Is that going to get us anywhere? Here’s what I propose: ‘Don’t hit back at all.’ If someone strikes you, stand there and take it. If someone drags you into court and sues for the shirt off your back, gift wrap your best coat and make a present of it. And if someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously. Matt 5:38-42
On Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday, we get the chance to look at the subject of nonviolent protest. Nonviolence is a more than simply agreeing that you won’t physically attack your enemy, it goes beyond that to love your enemies. King’s greatest influence, however, was not the Bible but the civil rights activist Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi referred to his form of nonviolence as satyagraha, meaning “truth-force” or “love-force.” Practicing satyagraha means a person should seek truth and love while refusing, through nonviolent resistance, to participate in something they believe is wrong. Today, we might call that speaking truth to power.
Dr. King once said, “In spite of temporary victories, violence never brings permanent peace.” “We adopt the means of nonviolence because our end is a community at peace with itself. We will try to persuade with our words, but if our words fail, we will try to persuade with our acts.”